When it comes to finding a place for you and your family to live, there have never been more options available than today. Banks and property owners have made living arrangements available and accessible to people of any lifestyle; whether you plan on staying in a home for just six months, or for the rest of your life.
It isn’t always easy, though, to determine which option is best for you. In this article, we’ll break down the financial and lifestyle characteristics of the four most common living situations: condominiums, townhouses, apartments, or owning your own home.
Condominiums are a type of community living. But, they’re more than just an apartment that you own. Most condos are attached; meaning they’re not separated by yards and driveways. Some, however, are detached. One thing that is true for all condos, however, are the common areas throughout the development. This can include things like a park, yards, gyms, pools, or lounges and cafes. The best part about those amenities? You don’t have to worry about their upkeep.
So, since you own the condo, who pays for the common areas? Odds are, you’ll be paying a monthly fee or a homeowners association fee to upkeep the amenities your condo came with. Expect higher fees for better amenities and prime real estate location.
What about maintenance? Since you own the condo, you’re responsible for much of the interior maintenance, such as appliances. However, outdoor issues like roofing or siding are usually the responsibility of the homeowners association or property manager.
Condos are ideal for people who are somewhat committed to an area, and who want independence over their home without having to take care of all the landscaping.
Townhouses are in many ways the opposite of condos. They are often rented but they look like single family homes, complete with a driveway and front yard. There are also typically homeowners association fees for townhouses, but they can be significantly less since there are fewer amenities in a townhouse living environment.
Depending on your long-term plans, you can either rent or buy townhouses. Renting is usually a better choice for inhabitants who don’t plan on staying in the residence for more than a couple of years.
If what you truly seek in a home is independence and privacy then traditional homeownership might be the best option for you. If you own a home outright and don’t have to answer to a homeowners association, you get to choose what you do with your yard. There are of course, some limits to this, like getting additions approved by zoning boards, or trampolines signed off by your insurance company.
Financially, homes can be a good asset. They typically increase in value and allow you to build equity. You might also find them more financially dependable; rents can increase year after year, but your monthly mortgage payments typically won’t unless you choose to refinance.
Ultimately, buying a home is going to benefit you more the longer you stay there. So, if you plan on moving for work in the next few years, you might be better off renting.